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This combined Fullscore edition contains the following pieces. Hear them all as a Spotify playlist here.


  • Variations on a Polish folk theme for Piano by Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937), abridged for intermediate piano players: Introduction, Theme, Variations 5 & 6. To sample just one taster piece of Szymanowski, try this direct link to Variation 5.
  • Polish Songs (1926), abridged to include Nos. 2, 4 & 6, by Karol Szymanowski
  • Chopin’s Mazurka No. 2 (Op. 41) is an interesting contrast to No. 2 as it uses the same folk tune.


Variations on a Polish folk theme (Op. 10, 1904)


On listening to all ten variations included in the original piece it may appear to be too difficult for the adventurous amateur. Fullscore's abridged edition provides a shorter edition for intermediate players. The Introduction may look taxing, but it is pattern and octave repetitive - the annotation a piacere invites you to play it as fast or slow 'as you please'. Variation 5 is particularly lovely and should impress any listeners new to Szymanowski.


Variations on a Polish Folk Theme was adapted from Jan Kleczynski’s collection of folk music from the Tatra mountains in Poland; this collection (and the mountains) became a major source of inspiration for the composer in his later years.


Edition cover photo: view of Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains.


About Karol Szymanowski:

Born in 1882 in Tymoszówka (now in Ukraine), Szymanowski spent most of his early life far from Warsaw, and was an outsider in the Polish music world of his day. After periods spent travelling widely, he returned to a now independent Poland committed to establishing a national musical identity for his homeland. He briefly held roles as director of the Warsaw Conservatory and, later, rector of the city’s Music Institute. Dismissed from the latter post, he returned to touring as a pianist, but his health gave way and he died in 1937, aged 54. His music was more valued outside Poland during his lifetime. More recently, however, his once-neglected output has been recognised for its original voice with a rich mix of influences – including Romanticism, orientalism, Debussy and Ravel, Scriabin and Stravinsky, and traditional Polish styles. (DG)


Two recordings stand out on Spotify: Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman (2022, DG) and the 1996 recording by Martin Roscoe (Naxos), which has a gentler Variation 6 and fewer dynamic variations. 


Polish Songs (1926)


No. 2: Tam na błoniu błyszczy kwiecie, No. 4: Leci liście z drzewa & No. 6: Ułani, ułani, malowane dzieci tracks from Marek Szlezer's album Szymanowski: Piano Works are included in our Spotify playlist here.


YouTube links (with animated music score): No. 2No. 4No. 6.


At the turn of 1925/6, Karol Szymanowski and his brother Feliks developed 20 popular soldier songs for piano with the lyrics included, entitled Polish Songs. Previously unknown in Szymanowski’s work, the style has a sublime and lyrical tone, so typical of patriotic songs. These works prove how sensitive Szymanowski was to patterns of the national tradition and the broad basis of various associations on which his style was shaped.


Polish Song No. 2: Tam na błoniu błyszczy kwiecie (There on the meadows flowers shine) is a military song written at the turn of 1830/1, during the November Uprising. The melody of this Uhlan (light cavalry soldier) song has the character of a concert kujawiak (a slower dance in 3/4 time originating from the Kujawy region of Poland). Its slower pace evokes the region's pastoral landscape, and includes portions written in a minor key.


Cover of Polish Songs: Napoleon Age Uhlans (1852) by January Suchodolski (1797-1875)


Chopin Mazurka in E minor Op. 41 no 2 (1838-9) has a distinct Polish echo, using the same melody of Polish Song No. 2, which was popular during the insurrection of Poland. Chopin quoted the song almost literally, heightening the drama by giving it a nostalgic and almost tragic tone. As the epilogue fades away, in unison, the melody is marked by a characteristic sound of Polish folk music: a second of Phrygian provenance. The mazurka reflects Chopin’s flights of fancy into ‘a land more lovely than the one we behold’. Author: Mieczysław Tomaszewski


Spotify link to Chopin Mazurka No. 2, played by Martha Argerich.


Polish Song No. 4: Leci liście z drzewa (Leaves are falling from the tree)

The song comes from the volume of Songs of Janusz by lyricist Wincenty Pol.


Polish Song No. 6: Ułani, ułani, malowane dzieci (Uhlans, uhlans, painted children)

A military song Hej, hej ułani, written in current form just before WW1, but dating back to the borderlands at the beginning of the 19th century.


Link to main info source (Aura Musica, Mgr. Tomasz Kotwica)

Szymanowski ~ Variations & Polish Songs

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  • 8 pages (11 inc. cover)

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